Industrialist and Chairperson of the Bajaj Group, Rahul Bajaj, on Saturday, 30 November, said that people had the freedom to critique the UPA government but the current regime has created an environment of fear and uncertainty.
Posing a question to a panel comprising Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Rail Minister Piyush Goyal at Economic Times Awards function in Mumbai, Bajaj asked the ministers why people are not allowed to question the government.
The statement comes at a time when the National Statistical Office (NSO) released the country’s second quarter GDP, which currently stands at 4.5 percent.
Responding to Bajaj, Shah said that there is no need for any individual to be scared.
Bajaj further questioned the Home Minister about Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur’s Godse remark, asking, “If there was a doubt that Godse was a terrorist”. Shah responded to this by saying that the party condemns Thakur’s statement.
Several journalists, political commentators and other social media users applauded the industrialist’s blunt questioning, as the video went viral.
‘Sentiment Shared Across Country’: Congress
The Congress on Sunday attacked the Modi government over Bajaj's remarks, claiming his sentiments were shared across the country and asserting that without harmony how one can expect investors to come.
Asked about Bajaj's remarks, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters, “What Rahul Bajaj said, is the sentiment shared across the country, across every sector.”
The atmosphere of this country has been vitiated though it is not beyond repair because the country has some resilience, he said.
“And if there is no harmony in a society, in a country, in a city, how do you expect investors to come and put their money there. Money only goes where it can thrive, where it can multiply, where it can grow,” Khera said.
“And it can only grow in areas where there is peace, harmony, mutual interdependence and happiness,” he said.
Another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said after ages “someone from the corporate world, all of whom preach a lot to the opposition, has the courage to speak some truth to power”.
“One of the most famous taglines in the Indian corporate ad industry has been 'You just can't beat a Bajaj'. Amit Shah has discovered that you just can't silence a Bajaj as well. Hamara Bajaj ne band baja diya!” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.
Senior Congress Milind Deora tweeted, “I have always known Rahul Bajaj to be apolitical, fiercely nationalistic & brutally honest. His remarks yesterday are in line with what MSMEs, bankers & industrialists have been telling me - if business sentiment does not improve soon, the worst is yet to come.”
Amit Malviya Calls Out ‘Bias’
Amit Malviya, head of the BJP’s information and technology Cell, in response to the viral video took to social media to allege that Rahul Bajaj was biased. He tweeted out videos of the industrialist lauding the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi.
Malviya asked him to wear his political affiliation on his sleeve and not “hide behind inanities like there is atmosphere of fear and all that...”
“Industrialists who flourished in the license raj will always be beholden to the Congress,” he added. Malviya also put up a video of Amit Shah’s “equally detailed response” to the question, asking, “Where is the fear if one can speak his mind?”
Malviya’s tweets were picked apart by social media users who alleged he was cherry-picking Bajaj’s comments on the Congress.
This is not the first time that Bajaj has questioned and criticised the government. Earlier this year, speaking at his company’s 12th Annual General Meeting, Bajaj had criticised the government for falling demand as well as private investment.
(With inputs from Economic Times)
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